BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis on Monday demanded that the Maharashtra government revoke Mumbai University's action against actor and dramatics teacher Yogesh Soman over his criticism of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.
"Such action was not expected against a person who praised Vinayak Damodar Savarkar when 'the chief minister himself believes in Savarkar's ideology," he said.
Soman, who is the director of the university's Academy of Theatre Arts, was sent on compulsory leave after he criticised Rahul Gandhi in a video post.
Soman slammed Gandhi over the latter's remark at a rally in Delhi that his name was Rahul Gandhi and "not Rahul Savarkar" so he would not apologise over his "Rape in India" comment.
In a letter to chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, Mr Fadnavis said it was unfortunate that Soman was punished for praising Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, the Hindutva ideologue and freedom fighter.
"I urge you to intervene and withdraw the action against Yogesh Soman," the former chief minister who is now Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly said.
"The action raises a question whether one should praise iconic figures such as Babasaheb Ambedkar, Mahatma Gandhi and Veer Savarkar," he said.
"Soman spoke highly of Savarkar and NSUI (student wing of the Congress) protested against that. To enable the students to withdraw their protest, the university sent Soman on compulsory leave. The action saddened nationalists," Mr Fadnavis said.
"When the state is being ruled by a chief minister who believes in Savarkar's ideology, such punishment is not expected. The punishment should be revoked without falling prey to any political pressure," the BJP leader said.